Alley Oop and Woogazoola

In search of the ineffable WOOGAZOOLA.

My youngest sister C. recently posed a question in an electronic forum. It addresses an etymology that continues to pique the interest of my oldest sister: T.

“My sister T. and I are trying to figure out what a “Woogazoola” is. Our mother used to say our hair looked like a “Woogazoola” when it was messed up. My understanding was that it was a comic strip character from maybe the 1920’s or 1930’s. Anyone have any idea?”

A response from H. followed in short order:

“My mom thinks it might have come from the comic strip Alley Oop from the thirty’s.”

hamlin_arizona-2

I think H.’s mom has hit a nail on the head. Let’s take some time to consider this clue. I have discovered an Alley Oop comic strip from sometime between 1932 and 1939. My mother would have been from 11 to 18 at that time, perhaps already remarking upon classmates’ messed hair. Here we see Alley Oop with The Grand Wizer:

alley.oop.wizer

A point to ponder: text contained within comic strip balloons is scarcely as googleable as:

===> this here text <===

Internet search engines do not parse the words in a balloon, so I decided to actually read some more Alley Oop comic strips from the 1930’s.

In the highly unlikely event that you are reading these words, I will point out that my findings are anecdotal at best. They are also probably incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial — I leave it to the judge to decide that.

Well then, I shall now toss in a few presumptuous conjectures. These have been peer-reviewed by our cat Loki: my go-between editor (Loki is sitting in a cardboard box between the keyboard and the monitor).

oop.punctuation

Now, let us consider context. We already know that “messed up hair” elicited what I am tentatively calling an incantation: “Woogazoola.” Additional research is needed to find other contexts that would have elicited the motherly exclamation “Woogazoola.”

But let’s work with what we have: two words that beggar the imagination. Consider the 3rd frame. The Grand Wizer has a skull on his head, he incants: “GAWOIK GEEEZOOOIE !”

Hamlin has a way with ALL CAPS, bold fonts and the gradual change in font size. Witness GEZUNK! and ZONG!

Look for the consonants G K W and Z, for example. Then switch over to vowels that wow you with their repetition: OO, OOO. The name of Oop’s girlfriend? OOOLA.

Ooptimemachine4939

Modern science fiction owes much to Hamlin’s vision. He set a model for time travel that is still familiar stuff. Take a look at The Precisely Rendered Blam to whet your interest 🙂

Woogazoola!

Thanks for reading.

 

Author: Bill Ziegler

Master of Arts Degree: Germanic Languages and Literatures. Master of Arts Degree: Geography. Certified Teacher of German Language. Functional specification writer for databases Logistics Chain for Automotive Concern: Technical Specification for a Filtering System: Translated a German patent for a steel-drum facility Translated terms and conditions (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen) Taught German language and culture kindergarten to advanced. Designed curricula Cincinnati Waldorf School Created programs using PL/SQL, Oracle, Unix, Visual Basic, Cleaned data for the P&G Commercial Products Group. Developed program to establish optimal vendor routes Designed IVR call-in for field agents to detect scheduling problems and determine their location. Designed programs to maintain a vendor database in an SAP application for product supply from a single pilot plant with 1,300 records to 40 plant locations with 45,000 records. Developed programs to identify specifically critical data errors and potentially duplicated records.

8 thoughts on “Alley Oop and Woogazoola”

  1. If my mother had known about that word, I’m sure she’d use it on me. Instead, she always tells me that my hair looks like I’ve been out in a hurricane. I tell her that I like the untamed, wild look and still, she berates me for obviously achieving it. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the anecdote, Shelby. One of my German students recalled a phrase that his father would use to describe his son’s unkempt hair. He didn’t know how to spell it but I recognized the pronunciation enough to identify Struwwelpeter, a character concocted by ETA Hoffmann — the same author who wrote the original Nutcracker story — from the early 19th Century. Here is one depiction of Struwwelpeter:

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you much, Neil, it was a lot of fun winding my way through the original comic strips from the 30’s. V.T. Hamlin was quite the interesting fellow. By the way, we have a drafting table that has the same iron hardware and the original dark finished wooden boards (it’s actually larger than the one that Hamlin is using in the photograph above). It functions perfectly and we still use it. Someone had set it to the curb for the garbage truck about 15 years ago — we rescued it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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